When British artist Cornelia Parker was a little girl, she discovered art by tossing coins into the nearby railroad lines and watching them violently transform. Parker did more than just crush a penny; she created a creative mind.

Thirty Pieces of Silver

©Cornelia Parker via BBC News

This piece was made in her early 30s by rolling over more than 1,000 pieces of silver and silver-plated silver using a steamroller. Parker then artistically hung the polished rubble into 30 individual pools, or “discs,” from long cables a few inches off the ground. “The title […] alludes to money, to betrayal, to death and resurrection; more simply, it is a literal description of the piece.”

Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View

©Cornelia Parker via BBC News

The installation suspends the broken contents of a garden shed that Parker had exploded in a field in 1991 using indistinct filaments. The twisted pieces of bikes, garden tools, painted pots, and toys are brilliantly illuminated by a blaring lightbulb placed in the middle of the installation. Viewers are unexpectedly ensnared in the energy of the continuously suspended explosion.

Perpetual Canon

©Cornelia Parker via BBC News

Parker expanded “Thirty Pieces of Silver” with “Perpetual Canon” by destroying 60 brass-band instruments. “The idea of a Perpetual Canon [is] that [it] just keeps going on forever. It’s like these wind instruments have inhaled and never exhaled. Like they’ve just taken a breath and are in an arrested space.”

Parker’s ongoing new piece is entitled “Island” (2022). It has a literary punch, evoking concerns about cultural isolation and themes of climate change in the abandoned greenhouse and its white-washed windows. Use the breathing light however you see fit.